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Common Dream Misconceptions

Part 1
Common misconceptions about sleep and dreams

Amazingly, as we approach the 21st century, there is still very little known about the
inner universe of sleep and dreams. In fact, numerous common misconceptions still
exist, many of which are perpetuated by so-called professionals.
A classic example occurs when individuals approach their doctor complaining of
disturbed sleep - waking throughout the night. Often, probably for the sake of
expediency, doctors tend to take people at their word which, on the surface, appears
to be a reasonable course of action. But is it?
It may come as a surprise to some diagnosed insomniacs to discover that constant
monitoring of their sleep sometimes reveal that they have slept the night away. Yet,
despite evidence to the contrary of a polygraph and witnesses, they are still prepared
to swear that they woke up on more than one occasion during the night.
Often, it transpires that these individuals have experienced very convincing dreams of
having woken, perhaps glanced at the clock, turned over, then gone back to sleep.
However, a spouse or partner who is awake, will often testify that their mate was fast
asleep when they claimed to have noted the time and turned over. In other words,
these people are literally dreaming of insomnia.
Some people will dream quite realistically that they have been toiling away at their
job of work, and awaken feeling exhausted. Others might be convinced that the alarm
clock has gone off, only to discover that, when the alarm is actuated in real life, their
original belief was a misconception.
Many people experience false awakenings, which is a phenomenon closely related to
'lucid' dreaming - a perfect replica of their bedroom will appear before their
(dreaming) eyes. Under these circumstances individuals will attain full consciousness,
but still be in REM sleep - in other words, a remarkably convincing illusion. A
polygraph, however, will prove that people who are prone to these conditions often
experience uninterrupted sleep.
Being in possession of these facts raises a disturbing question. How many people in
society are taking regular medication for insomnia, unnecessarily? True insomnia can
be very disturbing and will be dealt with in another issue.
Even today, another misconception, put forward surprisingly by some psychologists is
that lucid dreams do not exist. These so called professionals demonstrate their
ignorance about sleep and dreams by linking this phenomenon with sleep paralysis,
and for no better reason than that they have never experienced it for themselves.
This 'If I can't see it, then it doesn't exist' attitude is narrow minded and stifling to
the nth degree.
Admittedly, the concept of becoming fully conscious within a dream, with complete

self-identity restored, and the ability to control the dream, is truly amazing. Even
more so when a lucid dreamer becomes unable to distinguish this material reality
from the realm of the dream, and asks the question, 'Is this reality and is the
material world just another dream state?'
However, there is no excuse for psychologists not keeping abreast with published
research material - after all, that is part of their job! Further to the point, it is hard to
believe that more than twenty years after the lucid dream was scientifically proved beyond all doubt - to be a real phenomenon, these negative assertions of denial still
exist.
At seven minutes past eight, on the morning of Saturday the 12th of April 1975, after
an all-night vigil by a polygraph, at Hull University, Dr Hearne established the world's
first structured communication from a lucid dreamer to the outside world. The
monitoring equipment proved unequivocally that this individual was in REM sleep, yet,
via a series of prearranged eye movements he was signalling Dr Hearne. In effect, he
was saying, 'I know that I am being monitored by Dr Hearne in a sleep laboratory. I
am also aware that I am in REM dreaming sleep. It is now time to signal Dr Hearne to
let him know that although I am in the realm of dreams, I am fully aware that he is in
the material world, and I can prove it.'
This staggering discovery opened up a whole new field of science to be studied, that
of the inner universe. Therefore it beggars belief that, nowadays, so few professional
psychologists are still unable to break free of their scepticism in order to carry out
research into this most mind-boggling dream state. It is estimated that within the
realm of the lucid dream, there might lie the answers to many of humanity's most
poignant questions.
Another misconception is that we need to dream to maintain sanity, and this myth is
still perpetuated nowadays. For instance, a recent episode of the famous 'Star Trek The Next Generation' series showed the crew of the ill-fated Star Ship Enterprise
losing their minds after having been deprived of REM sleep.
This erroneous theory was first proffered around the end of the 1950s, and was
based on cruel, spurious laboratory experiments on animals. Some of these tests
involved cats which were floated on planks of wood in water. Every time they nodded
off, their heads would make contact with the water, thus jarring them awake and
depriving them of all sleep, and not just REM sleep - as was suggested....